Touro Synagogue, Newport

Touro Synagogue, Newport

The Touro Synagogue, also known as Congregation Jeshuat Israel, holds a special place in the heart of American history.

Built in 1763, the Touro Synagogue is a testament to the enduring spirit of religious freedom and diversity in the United States. It proudly holds the title of being the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States. It's not just a testament to the Jewish community's history but a symbol of religious tolerance and liberty that has come to define the nation.

Designed by the renowned British architect and Rhode Island resident, Peter Harrison, the Touro Synagogue is considered one of his most remarkable creations. The exterior of the building is an elegant representation of 18th-century architecture, capturing the essence of the colonial era.

As you enter the synagogue, you are greeted by a striking interior characterized by a row of twelve majestic Ionic columns that flank the central space. These columns symbolize the twelve tribes of ancient Israel, and it is particularly noteworthy that each column was expertly carved from a single tree. The significance of these columns adds a layer of depth and meaning to the synagogue's design.

The building is meticulously oriented to face east, a customary practice for Jewish places of worship, symbolically directing its gaze toward Jerusalem. At the eastern wall, you will find the Torah ark, which houses the sacred Torah scrolls. Above it, a mural intricately depicts the Ten Commandments in Hebrew, a meaningful artwork created by Newport artist Benjamin Howland.

The Touro Synagogue's history is deeply intertwined with the story of the Jewish community in Newport, under the leadership of Cantor Isaac Touro. The synagogue stands as a testament to their faith, resilience, and commitment to preserving their religious heritage.

In 1946, recognizing its immense historical value, the Touro Synagogue was declared a National Historic Site.

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Touro Synagogue on Map

Sight Name: Touro Synagogue
Sight Location: Newport, USA (See walking tours in Newport)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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